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Fetal methylmercury poisoning. Relationship between concentration in single strands of maternal hair and child effects.

Archives of neurology

Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Developmental Disabilities, chemically induced, Female, Food Contamination, Hair, metabolism, Humans, Iraq, Methylmercury Compounds, poisoning, Paresthesia, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications

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      Pregnant women consumed bread that was prepared from methylmercury-treated wheat. Single strands of maternal head hair were analyzed by x-ray fluorescence spectrometry. The index of fetal exposure was the maximum hair mercury concentration during gestation. Effects were measured by the frequency of psychomotor retardation, seizures, and neurological signs in the children. A dose-response relationship was demonstrated for fetal effects of methylmercury. Analysis of single hair strands provides a better index of acute or subacute fetal exposure than analysis of bundles of hair; the duration and degree of exposure are more accurately defined. A sex difference in response is discussed.

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